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Civic Impact

Earth Rangers Centre hopes to accomplish full net zero water use thanks to RBC grant

Woodbridges's Earth Rangers Centre (ERC), the LEED-platinum-certified headquarters of environmental non-profit Earth Rangers, has received a $40,000 grant from the RBC Blue Water Project.

The Blue Water Project (an RBC fund earmarked to support fresh water projects) will be used to help the Earth Rangers Centre better track its water usage.

Located in Woodbridge, Ontario, the ERC is already a highly equipped sustainable building. Since its completion in 2006, the building has combined a number of technologies--energy metering systems, solar generation, a green roof, geothermal heating and cooling, and on-site water treatment---to work towards a goal of net-zero energy consumption (using only the energy the building itself generates).

The RBC grant will go towards new tracking systems for the ERC's most ambitious project, its off-the-grid water treatment program. 

"We don't have city water and we don't have a sewer," explains Andy Schonberger, director of the Earth Rangers Centre."We have a small well and use that water, treated of course, for drinking water or other hygienic purposes."

The potable water that the Centre gets from the well then ends up going down drains, where it's joined by raw sewage. That water is processed on site and is, in turn, re-used throughout the the building.

"We have or own water treatment on-site. So all of that treated water, water that's clean but just below what you're allowed to drink, we'll use that to flush toilets and urinals or to irrigate out green roof, and we also keep it for firefighting purposes," says Schonberger. "And topping off the water tank, we're collecting all the water off our green roof and white roof [a sunlight reflective roof that captures rainwater] and using that water in the building as well."

Currently, says Schonberger, the Centre has six water meters that track consumption and re-use of water in the building, but it still lacks a way to track the water coming in from the flat roof surfaces or how much non-potable water is used to irrigate the green roof.

The RBC grant means that this already highly efficient building will be able to purchase and install four additional meters. Once the new meters are up-and-running--Schonberger anticipates the installation will be complete by this September--no drop of water in the ERC will be unaccounted for. 

"We already do really well with managing water. These new meters will help us do even better and track our progress, and will hopefully be an inspiration to others in the building community."

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Andy Schonberger, Director, Earth Rangers Centre
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